Addiction News Now – June 2012
People sometimes express frustration with what they feel is limited activity by our leaders in Washington on the pressing issues facing this country, including those important to the addiction and mental health treatment field.
We certainly understand those feelings, but thought you might like to read about a couple of positive recent steps.
We’ve written before about the new parity law that seeks to knock down the insurance barriers of access to treatment for those suffering from addiction and mental illnesses. While advocates believe more can be done on implementation and enforcement, there is movement. The U.S. Department of Labor recently posted a set of FAQs on implementation and enforcement of parity, and Secretary Sebelius of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mentioned the importance of parity in a recent statement on Mental Health Month.
The National Council recently signed on to a letter which is currently being circulated by a coalition partner, Community Catalyst, that asks Secretary Sebelius to provide sub-regulatory guidance to clarify that state insurance commissioners have the existing authority to enforce the 2008 federal parity law.
Statistics in the articles below show the stark impact the prescription drug abuse crisis has on young people. And it is increasingly affecting senior citizens as well, as we see in an article about a new survey from the John A. Harford Foundation talking about how “problems with prescription and over-the-counter drugs are common among the elderly, leading to over 177,000 emergency room visits every year.”
These and other policy issues are vital to the addiction treatment and recovery field, and we must stay vigilant and engaged as policymakers in Washington continue working on them.
Senior Director, Public Policy
Director of the Center for Public Advocacy at Hazelden
RESOURCES & REMINDERS
Flat Stephen Goes to AZ, CA, DC, IN, KS, MA, MI, NY & TX…Where Will He Go Next?
We’ve invited Stephen Colbert (via music video) to be our man as the Hill Day delegate from South Carolina. Now we’re hoping Flat Stephen (cousin to Flat Stanley) will make an appearance on Mr. Colbert’s show!
If you attended the National Council’s conference or follow our emails, you’ve probably seen our music video inviting Stephen Colbert to Hill Day, June 25-26 in Washington DC. Now, it’s time for the next stage in our campaign to catch Mr. Colbert’s attention.
You may already know the beloved children’s story about a little boy named Stanley who was squished “as flat as a pancake” one day when a bulletin board fell on him. Well now, say hello to Flat Stephen. We’re encouraging you to bring Flat Stephen to your agency. Learn more about his visits and how to participate here.
Train Your Future Leaders at the Middle Management Academy, June 20-23 in Washington, DC
Is a rising star at your organization still learning the ropes as a supervisor? Know a seasoned manager whose skills need polishing? Want to put your brightest and best on the leadership fast track? Put your brightest and best staff on the leadership fast track. Send them to the National Council’s Middle Management Academy.
The National Council’s Middle Management Academy, June 20-23 in Washington, DC is the ideal forum for building management skills. Spaces are filling up fast, so apply today to be considered for one of the few remaining seats.
The only program of its kind in the industry, the Middle Management Academy has, for a decade, turned promising performers into influential organizational leaders. Originally designed for frontline supervisors, the refined and rejuvenated Academy now helps managers at all levels enhance their ability to lead in increasingly complex environments.
The 3.5-day Academy teaches state-of-the-science management and leadership skills in a supportive environment. Participants learn to read and apply financial and analytical information; manage projects, implement planned change and redesign workflow processes; lead meetings; coach and mentor based upon outcomes; and apply personal leadership styles to optimize success.
Tuition costs are $1,150 per person which includes training, materials, and breakfast and lunch. Participants are responsible for travel and lodging costs. Registration is limited — apply now. Selected applicants will be notified once accepted. Questions? Contact Daisy Wheeler at DaisyW@thenationalcouncil.org or 202.684.7457 ext. 281, and click here for more information.
CMS Releases a Fact Sheet on Substance Abuse Structured Assessment and Brief Intervention
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have released an SBIRT fact sheet which provides education on substance abuse structured assessment and brief intervention. It includes an early intervention approach that targets individuals with nondependent substance use to provide effective strategies for intervention prior to the need for more extensive or specialized treatment.
WHERE IN THE WORLD IS THE NATIONAL COUNCIL STAFF?
June 6 – Jeannie Campbell, Executive Vice President will be in Las Vegas next week to check out Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas Hotel and Casino, the site of the 2013 National Council Mental Health and Addictions Conference, April 8-10, 2013.
BEHAVIORAL HEALTH EVOLUTION RESOURCES
Latest Research on Treating PTSD and Addiction
Among people seeking treatment for substance use disorders, it's estimated that nearly one in three are suffering symptoms of PTSD. Rates of alcohol and substance use disorders among those diagnosed with PTSD are also strikingly high. In a recent special issue of the Journal of Dual Diagnosis, guest editors Mark McGovern and Tracy Stecker review the research on interventions for co-occurring substance use disorders and PTSD. McGovern and Stecker note the growing number of studies in the past decade on integrated- treatment interventions and highlight some of the journal articles that provide both new findings on interventions and analysis of existing studies.
IN THE NEWS
Nearly One in Eight Older Teens Abuse Prescription Pain Medicine
Adolescents’ increased exposure to prescription opioids appears to coincide with a rise in their abuse of the medication. While one in four high school seniors report having had some exposure to prescription pain medicine, about 13% of them say they have used prescription opioids recreationally. In another survey of 12 to 17-year-olds, teens who abuse prescription pain medications appear to have begun abusing them at around age 16, an earlier age than was previously thought to be the average.
The findings were reported in two articles in a recent issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. The study of prescription opioid use among high school seniors surveyed 7,300 students in private and public schools from 2007 to 2009. The analysis of when teens are most likely to begin abusing prescription opioids examined data from the National Survey of Drug Use and Health.
Study Shows Social Media Sites Such as Facebook & Twitter May Hinder Drug Abuse Recovery
During a new research briefing at last month’s APA conference, David Tran, a graduate student in the UCLA Program in Medical Education, shared the results of his study that analyzed exposure to drug-related cues on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter and their effects on adolescents in substance abuse treatment.
Tran oversaw a 20-question survey to 37 teenagers that were enrolled in a substance abuse treatment center and looked to determine if patients were being affected by their online environment through social networking while also looking to see if patients were exposed to drug-related cues by posts from their friends and families and whether those cues influenced their treatment.
Of the 92% of participants who used social networking sites, 77% of girls and 53% of boys reported seeing triggers on social networking sites that made them feel like they wanted to use drugs.
After analyzing the results and noticing that only 22% reported that they posted or accessed recovery-related content on social networking sites, Tran said he hopes to use social networks as a tool to aid in substance abuse treatment programs by creating a private Facebook group for patient support and identifying peer leaders within the treatment program to participate.
Will New Manual Increase Addiction Rates?
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (D.S.M.) which spells out the criteria for addiction and other substance-use disorders is currently being rewritten by psychiatrists and other specialists. These revisions will be the first to the manual in 17 years, and could affect everything from research and treatment to insurance coverage. The manual dictates whether insurers, including Medicare and Medicaid, will pay for treatment, whether schools will expand financing for certain special-education services, and is used by courts to assess whether a criminal defendant is mentally impaired.
Those rewriting the manual have agreed to revise the definition of addiction, which could result in millions more people being diagnosed with addictive disorders. The addiction revisions would expand the list of recognized symptoms for drug and alcohol addiction, while also reducing the number of symptoms required for a diagnosis.
While some believe that the new manual will increase addiction rates, others believe that it will better reflect the difference between occasional drug users and those with more severe substance abuse disorders while also making it easier to identify and address drug or alcohol problems before they become serious. A study by Australian researchers found that about 60% more people would be considered addiction to alcohol under the new manual’s standards.
The new manual is scheduled for release in May 2013 and feedback on the proposed diagnostic criteria can be submitted until June 15 at www.DSM5.org.
• Minors can easily buy alcohol online, according to a recent study in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Many of the Internet alcohol sellers and shipping companies do not verify the buyer’s age, and the industry now has sales of $2.4 billion per year.
• According to a recent survey by the Partnership at Drugfree.org and the MetLife Foundation, marijuana use – especially “heavy” use – by young people has increased significantly.
• The rate of mothers abusing opiates during pregnancy has increased by almost five times between 2000 and 2009, and the same study found the number of infants with drug withdrawal symptoms tripled in the last decade.
• According to a recent study conducted by researchers from RTI International and Temple University, government investment in prison-based drug treatment programs could help reduce overall criminal justice system costs. Nearly half of all state prisoners are drug abusers or drug dependent, but only 10% receive medically based drug treatment during incarceration and providing substance-abusing state prisoners with more effective and accessible treatment in prison and after release would save the U.S. criminal justice system billions of dollars relative to current levels.
• A recent report from the University of Georgia that looked at a national sample of 27 treatment organizations showed that in the course of one year, 1 in 3 substance abuse counselors and about 1 in 4 clinical supervisors left their jobs.
• According to a NIATx survey, few addiction treatment provider organizations have implemented processes to comply with the expected demands of the 2010 health reform legislation regarding the use of evidence-based practices, quality management systems, information sharing, etc. Of the 276 organizations that completed the survey, most were in the early stages of readiness.
GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS UPDATE
Senate Appropriations Committee to Begin Consideration of Labor-HHS Bill
Reports from Capitol Hill indicate that the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee will begin consideration of the 2013 HHS budget with a markup on June 12. The bill will move on to consideration by the full Appropriations Committee on June 14.
Many issues are at stake in the 2013 budget. President’s Obama’s budget requests included cuts to a variety of programs funded under SAMHSA, while the House leadership has indicated it wants to see steep cuts in all areas of the budget.
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee and Committee hearings are the best place for advocates to make our voices heard about our funding priorities for 2013. And the coming weeks are the best time to speak up, so that lawmakers can go into the markups prepared to offer amendments to protect SAMHSA funding.
As Congress puts together the 2013 budget, the National Council urges legislators to:
• Maintain 2012 levels of funding for the Mental Health Block Grant and Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grants. The 2012 budget included a $40 million increase for the MHBG and a $20 million increase for the SAPTBG – the first increases in years. Cutting funding from these block grants would threaten the many important mental health and addictions treatment programs they support.
• Preserve overall funding for SAMHSA at its 2012 levels. Health and human services programs have been a frequent target of cost-cutting and deficit reduction attempts in Congress. Yet, with the lingering effects of the recession forcing states to continue cutting services – and the cuts that have already been dealt to SAMHSA in previous years – further reductions could decimate our nation’s addictions and mental health safety net.
To read our full coverage of the 2013 appropriations process, please visit the Federal Budget section of our blog.